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How My Breast Reduction Freed Me

At the age of 9 I had my first bra. At 12 I was already a C cup. By the age of 15 I reached a crazy 34E. 

Breasts come in all shapes and sizes, and we should celebrate the body we were born with. But sometimes what we are born with can limit us. When I was a freshman in high school, I grew from a C cup to an E cup in 6 months. It was painful, scary, and emotionally upsetting. I wasn’t gaining weight, but I thought I was fat. I was uncomfortable and embarrassed. I covered up with t-shirts and sweatshirts; anything fitted on me just accentuated my new size. Sophomore year I tried to lose weight in hopes that my size would go down. I lost almost 15 pounds and only went from a 34E to a 32E. I decided to accept what it was and just went with it. I started wearing “normal” clothes again; v-necks, fitted blouses, and more, but that’s when attention started. There was this joke going around school that I had a “boob job.” Sometimes I just went with it, other times I felt embarrassed.

I was even so embarrassed by my size that I never posted pictures in a bathing suit, or if I did, I purposefully photoshopped my chest to look smaller in pictures I posted. I attracted some unwanted attention from boys and unnecessary gossip from other girls. The emotional pain was very hard. I went into dressing rooms with 10 tops and would walk out crying because there were none that fit. Finding homecoming and prom dresses were a battle in itself. Bathing suits were special ordered from an overseas company and were hecka expensive. This is also when the physical pain started. Being skinnier with a large chest caused back problems, shortness of breath, and bras never fitting just right. 

Photo as it was taken vs what I posted on Instagram

Breast reduction surgery was an option from the time I was 14, but I never thought about actually getting it until my senior year of high school. It’s not something a lot of people knew or talked about. A breast reduction is the removal of breast tissue to make the breasts smaller. Most women (and men) who get it are in the process of losing a significant amount of weight or are moms who were done breastfeeding and their breasts did not return to “normal.” My condition is called breast-hypertrophy, an over-enlargement of the breasts. At 14 this wasn’t a common problem for most girls, so throughout high school I decided to just accept what I had and dealt with it.

Age 15 after reaching an E cup

Freshman year of college, I found out a good friend of mine from elementary school decided to have a breast reduction. She and I have the same body type, so I reached out to her to ask questions. I finally had questions answered about the surgery from the perspective of someone like me. Over the next year I met with two plastic surgeons. When I finally settled on one I was both nervous and excited. I had my surgery immediately after getting home from my sophomore year of college. It was an experience I will never forget. 

The day of the surgery I was more excited than I was for anything in my life. I remember laying in the OR thinking about how different things would be after this surgery, and then I fell asleep. When I woke up, everything was a blur. I was still recovering from the anesthesia when I vaguely remember waking up at home in my bed. I felt an ace bandage tightly wrapped around me and I slept that entire day away. The next day I went back to the surgeon to get the ace bandage removed to see how everything looked. As the nurse pulled off the bandage I suddenly got a head rush seeing all the stitches and bruising on my chest. I felt like I was going to be sick. I looked at myself for a long time and reminded myself that this wasn’t what the end result will look like and everything was going to be okay, but it was definitely overwhelming. Healing took almost two weeks. I spent a lot of time at home sitting in bed because too much activity could pull on my stitches. It was hard and lonely, but I was lucky to have people come over and visit me. I also watched every episode of Friends in that two weeks (for the first time ever). Once I healed enough I went shopping for the first time, and the experience was exhilarating. I bought 90% of the clothes I tried on and spent more money than I care to say, but it was more than worth it after years of never being able to wear the clothes I wanted to.

First time wearing a sundress after surgery!

Over the next few months, I went through a transitional period of learning about my new body; what I could wear, what I wanted to wear. It was nerve-wracking and exciting. I did have to hold myself back from getting too excited or wearing myself out easily. Recovering from any major surgery takes months, but I started swimming, using my arms more each day, eating healthy. And in no time I started to feel fully functional again. I love experiencing life in this new way. I hardly have back pain anymore, I can wear a wider variety of clothes, and I don’t feel ashamed or embarrassed by wearing certain things. I am loving every second of new things I can do like pushups and cardio, buy bras for less than a crap-ton, and I can spend a whole day out with friends or family without sitting down for sore shoulders or running out of breath. 

Six months have passed. Yes, I still have scars, but they will continue to fade. The emotional and physical changes I have experienced cannot even be expressed in words. My self esteem grew, I love to go shopping now, and I can exercise more. The changes are endless. I couldn’t have gotten through it without support from my family, friends, and the class instructors at my gym. I am happier than I have ever been in my life and without a doubt, getting this surgery was the best decision I ever made for myself.

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